Imagine a life lived outdoors…surrounded by lush green rainforest and breathing brisk mountain air. With sunny mornings, afternoon showers, and clear skies again at sunset.
“Bird heaven.” It’s often the first phrase that comes to mind when I’m in the El Valle region, just two hours by car from Panama City. On the western edge of the popular crater town is Potosí—a green oasis dotted with palms and flowering shrubs.
It’s late afternoon, and the surfers are making their way on to the shore. I’ve been working and enjoying the view from under a restaurant’s thatched roof.
Colorful birds swoop in and out of the trees of the rainforest landscape. Combined with a blue sky, it makes a soothing palette—perfect for days that flow like honey, slow and sweet. We sit on the large terrace, sipping wine and chatting about life in small, sleepy El Valle, Panama.
I’m sitting at a pub eating proper U.K.-style fish and chips, sipping a local microbrew, and watching the beautiful people (and cars) go by. This is Panama City, so it’s lovely and warm. It was clear skies all afternoon so, as soon as the clock hit 5 p.m., I headed out for a bit of sun and social time.
About a month ago, I packed up my things and left Panama City for a rented house in the countryside…and it was glorious. I wrote to friends about the peace and serenity of “my little Quietville.” And when my one-month lease expired, I got teary-eyed…
Earlier this evening I walked across a plaza to meet a friend. There was an elegantly outfitted brass band playing for a group of dignitaries. The centuries-old Hotel Central—newly restored to its former glory—was the perfect backdrop. Locals hung out in the gazebo and on benches around the plaza, enjoying the impromptu show.
What a beautiful moment. Humpback whales weave through the crystal water as I tap away on my laptop. My friend takes a more ecstatic approach and jumps up and down, beckoning for my attention. I'm on Contadora Island, a one hour, 45-minute ferry-ride (or 20-minute flight) from Panama City.
I wake up to the sound of birds, the sun shining through the windows that line my bedroom. It has become my habit to get up and throw open the front door before doing anything else. All day long that door stays open, the terrace outside seamlessly flowing into the interior of my wood cabin.
When artist Cynthia Hass Bishop met her now husband, Fred Bishop, she had an important question for him: “Would you consider living outside the U.S.?” “When I was 10, I told my parents I wanted to go the University of Mexico City,” she says. Exploring has always been in her blood. And Panama was on her list early on.